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Buy cheap best deals on The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge under $100, $200, $300
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With Samsung finally unveiling this year’s flagship Galaxies, Android lovers will be dying to get their hands on the S7 and S7 edge as soon as possible.
Luckily, both devices will be hitting all major carriers on March 11, with pre-orders beginning at 8am E.T. on February 23 (that’s today!). And unsurprisingly, the big wireless providers have wasted no time in announcing initial pricing and special offer details.
Here’s our guide to where you can pre-order both the 32GB S7 and S7 edge (or pick up in-store from March 11), and all the freebies and deals each carrier is throwing in so far.
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AT&T Next over 20 months
AT&T Next over 24 months
AT&T Next over 30 months
AT&T Next 30% Down over 28 months
Full retail priceSamsung Galaxy S7
$34.75 per month
$28.96 per month
$23.17 per month
$209 down, $17.36 per month
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
$39.75 per month
$33.13 per month
$26.50 per month
$239 down, $19.86 per month
Both the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will be available via AT&T Next, with prices above. Each device will be stocked in Black Onyx and Gold Platinum, with the S7 edge also available in Silver Titanium.
If you’re a DirecTV subscriber, you can pick up either new Galaxy handset on an unlimited data plan (from $100 per month). And if you’d like a wearable to go with your Galaxy smartphone, the Gear S2 classic will be $17.50 per month on a 20-month installment plan.
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Sprint Easy Pay over 24 months
Sprint Galaxy Forever over 24 months
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
$27.09 per month
$25.99 per month
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
$31.25 per month
$30.50 per month
Sprint has announced a ‘buy one, get one half price’ deal for both new Galaxies straight out of the gate, as well as a special leasing program called Galaxy Forever. The promotion appears to be an Android spin-off of iPhone Forever, but it’s important to understand that this program is a leasing deal and not quite the same as a regular installment plan. More information on Galaxy Forever is available in our guide.
As well as the above prices, you can also take home a second S7 on Galaxy Forever for just $12.99 per month, again over 24 months with a 12-month upgrade option. The S7 edge is available for  $15.25 for your second device, with the standard 24-month lease plan and upgrades after 12 months of payments. However, if you cancel your lease, be aware that you'll then lose your half-price deal and be required to pay full price for all devices (again, see our Galaxy Forever guide for more information).
Customers can also pick up either new flagship phone on a standard two-year Easy Pay plan, or at full retail price. 
If you order your S7 or S7 edge from Sprint between February 23 and March 18, you'll also receive Samsung’s Gear VR and a six-game bundle free with purchase (a value of $170).
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On Equipment Installment Plan over 24 months
On T-Mobile JUMP! On Demand over 18 months
Full retail priceSamsung Galaxy S7
$0 down, $27.92 per month ($27.83 final month)
$0 down, $28.00 per month
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
$99.99 down, $32.50 per month ($32.49 final month)
$0 down, $32.50 per month
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As with Sprint, T-Mobile will throw in Samsung’s Gear VR bundle, including six games, free with pre-orders of the S7 or S7 edge made between February 23 and March 18. What’s more, customers will also get a full year of free Netflix with their order – that’s $120 worth of movies and television, totally free when combined with the Binge On video streaming feature. 
T-Mobile customers can pay for their S7 or S7 edge over 24 months on the carrier's installment plan, or lease their device via JUMP! On Demand. JUMP! On Demand is free to join and allows customers to pay $0 upfront for their new phones, while also having the option to upgrade to a new handset up to three times each year. More info on how JUMP! On Demand works is available here. 
T-Mobile will sell the Black Onyx and Gold Platinum models of the S7, and Black Onyx, Gold Platinum and Silver Titanium models of the S7 edge. 
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Verizon Payment Plan over 24 months
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
$28.00 per month
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
$33.00 per month
Verizon customers buying either device online on a payment plan, before March 18, will receive a free Samsung Gear S2 or Samsung Gear VR. And for a limited time, customers switching to Verizon and activating the S7 or S7 edge will also qualify for a $100 bill credit, when buying either handset on an installment plan. The $100 credit offer also applies to switching customers picking up the DROID Turbo, Turbo 2 and Maxx 2.
The carrier has also shared two accessory bundles that will be available to any customer pre-ordering the S7 or S7 edge. Verizon's Memory Bundle includes any case valued up to $39.99, any display protector up to $34.99, and a 32GB microSD card (priced at $39.99), all for $79.99 - a saving of up to $35. 
Customers can also save $85 on the $99.99 Charging Bundle, including a Samsung Fast Charging Portable Power Pack with 10,220 mAh valued at $79.99, as well as the Samsung Wireless Fast Charging Stand ($69.99) and a Fast Charging car charger ($34.99). You can also pick up the Samsung Gear S2 Classic smartwatch for $399.99 upfront, or $349.99 on a two-year agreement - it's available to pre-order with your S7 or S7 edge from February 23. 
The S7 and S7 edge can be combined with other Verizon offers, including the $650 per-line switching credit for new customers, and 24GB of bonus data for any user upgrading or activating a new line on selected plans. 
U.S. Cellular
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Installment plan over 24 months
On a two-year plan
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
$28 per month
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
$32.50 per month
U.S. Cellular will be offering both Galaxies on installment plans, subsidized on a two-year contract, and to buy at full price on prepaid plans. 
Boost Mobile
Installment plan over 24 months
On a two-year plan
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
Boost will launch the Galaxy S7 in-store on March 11, with the Black Onyx color available for $649.99 upfront. The device can be paired with Boost's family plan deal for switching customers, which can save you up to 50% off your current monthly cell phone plan if you're with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon. More information on this promotion is available here
Virgin Mobile
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Installment plan over 24 months
On a two-year plan
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
As with Boost, Virgin Mobile will have the Galaxy S7 available in the Black Onyx model, but you'll have to wait until March 18 to buy. The S7 will sell for $649.99 full-price, with Virgin's no-contract plans now including unlimited, data free music streaming from Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker, 8tracks and Milk Music. 
Cricket Wireless
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Installment plan over 24 months
On a two-year plan
Full retail price Samsung Galaxy S7
AT&T's prepaid brand Cricket Wireless will welcome the Galaxy S7 in Black Onyx on March 18. Customers can buy the handset for $649.99 full price, and will also receive a Samsung Gear VR bundle with six games (valued at $150) if they buy before April 1. 
Everywhere else
You'll be able to buy the new flagship releases from Best Buy, Target, Staples, Walmart, Car Toys and Sam's Club from March 11, as well as directly from Samsung. We’ll be keeping an eye on further carrier announcements, so check back for pricing and plan updates.
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LG Volt
$35 Unlimited Talk, Text & 1GB Data
Deal: Get $160 off this phone online

Includes 1GB full speed data
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Kyocera Torque XT
Switch to Sprint : 50% Off AT&T's Mobile Share 300MB
Deal: Waived Activation Fee on all devices

($22.50 plan + $15 phone)
Includes 300MB data
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The best cheap smartphones - reviewed
Looking for the best low-cost smartphone under £150? The Bush Spira E3X joins our list of budget bargains

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30 August 2016 / 12:48BST
by Andrew Williams

Don’t fancy shelling out more on a phone than you paid for your first car? The iPhone 6s and Galaxy S7 aren’t the only phones out there, you know.
There’s a whole class of great phones you won’t see on billboards; the best of them get you 90 per cent of the smarts you'll find in an expensive model for a quarter of the price, and they don’t have to look and feel cheap, either. Now that’s the kind of maths we can get behind.
Pick up the right handset from a brand you may have never heard of, and you could save hundreds of pounds in phone charges over a couple of years. That means you’ll be able to snag a bargain contract, or even roam free on a Pay as You Go deal.
So what’s the catch? Well, you won’t find all the best budget phones on the high street. A bit more research is required, lest you end up with the smartphone equivalent of a stay in Fawlty Towers. Naturally, we’ve gone and done all this hard work for you, and bagged the latest Moto G4 to see how it stacks up against some fierce budget-minded competition.
With even the likes of Vodafone and EE making a great cheap phones nowadays, there’s no telling where the best bargain blower might be found. Well, unless you read our pick of the finest handsets for thrifty folk. Then you’ll be all sorted.

Lenovo Moto G4 (£169)
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Give us a break, Motorola. We’ve been recommending the Moto G to all our cash-strapped friends for three years, so can’t you just make one little dud to give something else a chance?
The Moto G4 is going to continue making us sound like broken record. It’s bloomin’ great, once again upping the series standard and showing every other big phone-maker what can be done for £170. It’s just not fair really.
New bits for this generation include a slimmer 9.8mm-thick design, metal-effect sides and, the one bit not everyone will like, a bigger screen. The Moto G4 has a 5.5in display, making this a flat-out bigger phone than any Moto G phone to date. It’s a pocket-filler, just like an LG G5 or Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
The vanilla version of the G4 otherwise seems just like a scaled-up classic Moto G, though. Resolution has been bumped up to 1080p, making then big screen look sharp, while colour and contrast are top for a low-cost phone. Something like this would normally cost you at least £100 more.
The 13-megapixel camera is the same unless you pay up for the 16MP Plus version, for £60, but it’s still about the best you can get at the price. It gets you the dynamic range to make your shots look like they haven’t come from a budget mobile. The camera app has turned itself around, dropping a quirky look for a totally practical one. It’s a doodle to use.
Motorola has upped the power to suit the high-res screen too, using an octa-core Snapdragon 617 CPU. It’s no molten metal powerhouse, but is enough to make Android fly and top-end games play just about perfectly. What more do you need?
Great software too? Check. The G4 has pure Android 6.0.1 aside from just the one Motorola app. No bloat, no mess, just smooth Android joy. You can even get a fingerprint scanner if you upgrade to the Plus version. The normal one looks better, mind.
Like last year’s version, there’s still just the one speaker on the front, but it’s a bit beefier-sounding this time around. Max-out the volume and it can sound a teeny bit distorted, but that’s one of the few bum notes in this blinder of a phone.
It can even be given your own design spin if you buy direct from the Moto Maker website. You can get “I love” engraved on the back if you like. We won’t mind.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✭
Motorola has done it again. This is the new no.1 budget phone as long as you’re up for that big old screen.
Buy the Moto G4 from Motorola
Tech Specs
Moto 4G in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5.5in 1920x1080 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core • RAM: 2GB • Camera: 16MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB plus microSD
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Lenovo Moto G4 Plus review
Oppo F1 (£169)
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If you know of Oppo at all, it’s probably for the weird phone tech tricks it has pulled in the past. Like rotating cameras. But now it’s all grown up and has come out with the eminently sensible Oppo F1.
There’s still a trick, though. It’s a £169 phone that feels a bit like £300 one. It’s ultra-slim and the back is gold-coloured metal. Look a bit closer and you’ll see that the sides and are plastic, but don’t tell your friends and it comes across a classy bargain. Feels nice too.
Looks matter here, but there’s substance to match. 16GB storage is enough to install a bunch of games, and there’s a microSD slot in the SIM tray. Bung in a 128GB microSD card and you’re laughing.
The screen is classic upper crust budget fodder. It’s a 5-inch 720p LCD. It’s sharp enough, bright enough and its colours are pretty decent. The Auto brightness sensor is a bit slow on the uptake, but at least it has one unlike the Samsung arch-rival Galaxy J3.
The camera is packed with goodies too. It’s fairly fast, and with 13-megapixel resolution you can get snaps worth saving. Extra modes galore let you try out creative shots only £500 flagships tend to get.
It uses a Samsung sensor/lens combo, which doesn’t seem quite as hot on pure image quality as the Sony one used in the Moto G and some rivals. But it’s not too far off.
The front camera puts other budget phone selfies to shame in return. The Oppo F1 has an 8-megapixel front camera, earning it the ‘Selfie Expert’ title Oppo likes quoting so much. It won’t be too forgiving on those bleary mornings before you’ve had your coffee, but it does supply oodles of detail.
So what’s wrong? The Oppo F1 uses ColorOS rather than normal Android, and it doesn’t look or feel quite as good. You can reskin it with themes, but we wouldn’t blame you for pasting over it with the Google Now Launcher.
Some of Oppo’s apps also feel a bit buggy, even after the updates the phone has been given since our original review. It’s currently stuck with Android 5.1.1 rather than the newer Android Marshmallow too.
Make a few tweaks and you have a budget star on your hands, not least because this is one of the more powerful phones at the price. With an octa-core Snapdragon 616 and 2GB RAM running things, it’s a turbo-charged coupé among budget phones.
It’s a great pick for gamers, the cherry on top being the loud inbuilt speaker.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
It’s not quirk-free, but you get a lot of hardware for a good price with the Oppo F1
Buy the Oppo F1 from Amazon 
Tech Specs
Oppo F1 in figures Operating system: Android 5.1 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 octa-core • RAM: 3GB • Camera: 13MP rear, 8MP front • Storage: 16GB
You might also like
Oppo F1 Plus review
Honor 5C (£150)
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If Samsung and Apple are the fancy supermarkets of the smartphone world, Honor is closer to something like Iceland. It’s not cool to shop there, but if you’re careful about what you put in your basket, you can’t half get a lot for your money.
The Honor 5C is a £150 phone with a super-sharp screen, a power-packed processor and a camera among the best at the price. But let’s start with the basics. This isn’t a particularly fancy phone - it’s no oil painting, with some funny-looking seams on its back.
These are present because while the frame is plastic, there’s a big plate of brushed metal on the rear. It doesn’t do a great job of tricking you into thinking this is a metal phone, though. It’s what your fingers touch that counts most, and here it’s plastic, plastic, plastic.
There are a few bits that do seem a lot more expensive than the price, though. The main one is display resolution. A 1080p screen is still super-rare for less than £150, and gets you the same pristine sharpness you’ll see in a phone well over twice the price. At 5.2in, it’s a smidge larger than the Samsung Galaxy S7's display too.
Out on the road, you’ll notice a few drawbacks. On a bright day, visibility is only OK, a bit worse than the Motorola Moto G4. At an angle there’s some brightness loss too, another sign this isn’t quite a world-beating screen. But hey, it’s only £150.
There’s some of the same vibe with the Honor 5c’s power. The Huawei-made Kirin 650 CPU gets you amazing benchmark results, but in day-to-day use you do still have to put up with some sluggishness when loading and switching between apps.
The 16GB of built-in storage is quick, and there’s 2GB RAM, but the Honor 5c just doesn’t always feel super-fast. Gaming performance is good though. You won’t find better at £150. 
Another hurdle: not all of you are going to like the EmotionUI 4.1 software. It doesn’t have an apps menu, making it a bit of a mare to keep looking nice.
There’s a bit of lag in the camera too. However, it can take some great daylight shots that’ll stack up to the Moto G4’s. Even if the processing style is a bit, well, fizzy.
The Honor 5c doesn’t blow its many rivals clean out of the water, but if you don’t fancy a Motorola Moto G4, it does offer a lot of hardware for under £150.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
Another phone for the ‘high-spec, low-price’ stew, the Honor 5c is good value if you can put up with some quirks
Buy the Honor 5c here
Tech Specs
Honor 5C in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5.2in 1920x1080 LCD • Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 650 octa-core • RAM: 2GB • Camera: 13MP rear, 8MP front • Storage: 16GB
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Huawei Honor 7 review
Vodafone Smart Prime 7 (£75)
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Phone networks make money off us when we pay for their services. They love it when you switch on roaming abroad. This means they can use all that cash to make phones that’d cost a lot more if they came from a pure phone-maker.
The result is phones like the Vodafone Smart Prime 7. It costs £75, but in most respects is just as good as what HTC and Samsung trot out for double the price. The bargain bell is dinging.
There’s bad stuff too, but let’s start with the good. The Smart Prime 7 is much more eye-catching than the older Vodafone mobiles, which had about as much personality as a bag of flour. You now get a neat (almost) carbon fiber-style back that looks and feels better than plain old plastic, and there are real metal accents across the phone. That camera lens ring has low-key bling.
Even in-hand, you could believe this phone costs £150.
The screen is a smash too. It’s a familiar 720p 5-inch LCD, but its colours really pop. There’s no hint of that undersaturated budget vibe here.
Even Vodafone’s software approach is solid. The basics are all built on Android Marshmallow. There’s no bloated custom interface here that changes how it rolls. There is a handful of preinstalled Vodafone apps, but quite a lot of these can be uninstalled if you find the Vodafone presence a bit of a red threat.
So far: mind-blowing bargain. But let’s get real. The Prime 7 costs £75 so there are going to be some compromises. The phone has a low-end Snapdragon 210 CPU and just 1GB RAM.
The top layer of the phone feels fast and it doesn’t seem like you’re waiting for the thing to catch up when you type. But apps to take longer to load, especially 3D games that have a load of data to crunch. We’ve seen more grating lag in more expensive phones, though.
Its camera is fairly basic too. You can take some shots worth sharing, but its 8-megapixel sensor feels the budget kosh and images become both soft and noisy in anything approaching low light. HDR shots take an age to capture as well, although mercifully normal ones don’t. Phew.
If you can afford to spend the extra on something like the Motorola Moto G, you won’t regret it. But the quality Vodafone offers for just £75 here is pretty amazing.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
It may pootle along a bit in parts, but the amount of phone you get for the cash here is exceptional
Buy the Smart Prime 7 from Vodafone
Tech specs
Vodafone Smart Prime 7 in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 quad-core • RAM: 1GB • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 8GB
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Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 review
Honor 5x (£190)
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It’s probably only sensible, if your company has a name that sounds like a drunk Geordie asking for directions, to market your range of affordable smartphones under a brand-name that’s easy for idiot Westerners to get their tongues around. That’s what the pragmatic souls at Huawei have decided, and that’s why the Honor brand appears on the back of the 5X in a font roughly 50 times the size of that of the parent company’s name.
At 5.5in on the diagonal, the 5X offers a lot of screen for your money – and that’s not the only way it’s big if not entirely clever. The spec-list is extensive: it’s running Snapdragon 616 octa-core processing, its cameras are 13MP (back) and 5MP (front), and there are two SIM trays (micro and nano) so your 5X can conceivably be two discrete phones at once. There’s a dedicated microSD slot which will accept cards up to 128GB and a fingerprint sensor – usually the preserve of more expensive handsets.
The 5X runs Android Lollipop (5.1.1) – there’s been a rumour of an upgrade to Marshmallow (6.0.1) for a while now, but as yet nothing’s been forthcoming. Which is a pity, because while the Honor’s ‘Emotion UI’ reskinning of standard Android is ok in an I-wish-I-was-an-iPhone sort of way, it’s by no means the quickest or most responsive interface around. Nor does it launch apps as fast as it might.
Elsewhere the news is generally pretty positive. Battery life is heroic – even power users should get a full day, and 48 hours is achievable if you’re judicious. The rear camera is sharp, colourful and detailed (the front camera is good for bright blurry selfies but is thoroughly confused by low-light conditions), the screen’s correspondingly high-contrast, detailed and not too reflective, and the fingerprint sensor – well positioned, as all the few physical controls are – is not too pedantic.
It’s well made and finished, the materials feeling upmarket enough despite the 5X’s relatively fly-away 158g weight, and as a music player it strikes a decent balance between superficially impressive low-end wallop and deft insight.
The Honor 5X has little cachet, and is priced to reflect that fact. But it’s a worthwhile and thoroughly competitive budget smartphone which, if nothing else, indicates just how serious Huawei is.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
Not the cheapest budget smartphone around but certainly one of the best
Buy the Honor 5x from Amazon
Tech specs
Honor 5x in figures Operating system: Android 5.1.1 • Screen: 5.5in 1920x1080 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 octa-core • RAM: 2GB • Camera: 13MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB
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Honor 5c hands-on review
Bush Spira E3X
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On paper, the Spira E3X should be the smartphone bargain of the year - even with that massive Bush logo on the back. For £200 you’re getting a 5.5in, 1080p screen, octa-core CPU, fingerprint security and a 21.5MP camera - the same snapper you’d normally find on top-end Sony phones.
It doesn’t dial down on design to squeeze in all that tech, either. There’s 2.5D glass on the front, a metal frame around the sides, and a OnePlus-style textured back. It’s great for grip, even if it does feel a little like very fine sandpaper. It’s built like a tank, too.
The camera sticks out a bit, but not so much you won’t be able to squeeze it into the pocket of your skinny jeans. It’s the real highlight here: there’s plenty of detail in outdoor snaps, and it copes well indoors once the sun goes down too. HDR pics take a second or two to save, though. The camera app has plenty of settings to tweak, but they’re all buried in the menus - a few more onscreen buttons would have made it a little more user-friendly.
Up front, Full HD is the best you can hope for at this price, but there’s still plenty of detail in photos and videos once those pixels are stretched over 5.5in. It’s an LCD panel, but colours have plenty of punch. You can customise them through the Settings screen if you like things a little more natural, and viewing angles aren’t half bad either.
Don’t let the twin speaker grilles on the bottom of the phone trick you: there’s only one driver behind them actually pumping out sound. It gets tinny at high volume, but does the job for YouTube videos if you stay below two thirds of maximum.
There’s a USB-C port here too, but no fast charging. The 3000mAh battery is good for about 8 hours of video playback - or a full day of general use before it’s time to head to a mains socket.
That Mediatek CPU isn’t exactly energy-friendly, but is powerful enough to run most apps and games without any lag or stutter. The more intense Asphalt 8 can chug a bit, but everything opens quickly and multitasking doesn’t slow things down either - that’ll be the 4GB of RAM doing its thing.
The simple OS helps things ticking along smoothly. Bush hasn’t slapped on a custom skin, so if you’re a fan of stock Android you’ll be right at home. There aren’t hundreds of pre-installed apps, either, and with 64GB of built-in storage you won’t run out of space for apps, games and files in a hurry. There’s also an SD card, so you can add some extra storage when you eventually run out.
Not bothered about the Bush logo? Then there’s plenty to like here. The E3X is right on the borderline of what we’d call budget, but short of splashing out another £100, you won’t get better specs for the cash. If you can put up with EMUI instead of stock Android, though, Honor’s 5C almost matches it for £50 less.
An amazing spec for the price, which might just be enough to look past the bargain basement brand name
Buy the Bush Spira E3X here from Argos
Tech Specs
Bush Spira E3X in figures Operating system: Android 6.0 • Screen: 5.5in 1920x1080 • Processor: Mediatek MT6755 octa-core • RAM: 4GB • Camera: 21.5MP rear w/laser autofocus, dual tone LED flash, 8MP front w/ LED flash • Storage: 64GB + microSD card slot
Moto E (2015) (£100)
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Want a dinky phone that doesn’t seem to have all the best bits cut out, just because it’s a bit smaller? Jump on-board with the Moto E. Unlike the first version, this second-gen model has 4G, a decent 8GB storage and a pretty chunky battery.
It also lets you customise the look more than any other phone here, with clip-on colour borders you can pull off with a finger. These help protect the outside too. Scratch it up good and proper can you can still replace it.
The downer about having such a tech-filled phone is that the Moto E is pretty tubby and kinda heavy too. But it does have a damnably strokable dimple on its back. We just can’t stay mad at it.
The Moto E has a dinky 4.5in screen, which lets it get away with a 950 x 540 resolution. It’s not quite as sharp or impressive as the 5-inchers here, but looks good until you get really close up.
It’s also probably the classiest number here, rocking 98 per cent vanilla Android with just a couple of bonus Motorola apps changing things up a bit. And as it has a decent 64-bit Snapdragon 410 CPU but low-ish screen resolution, it can handle jazzy-looking 3D games at high frame rates. Motorola’s a fan of the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ motto. Others should take note.
Of course, if you think that more is, well, more, the Moto E may not be top of your list. It doesn’t have the largest, sharpest screen here. Not by a long shot. Any gamers and those who really spend hours a day glued to their mobiles should bear this in mind. And… the camera’s pretty rubbish. A 5MP main sensor makes photos that start to look a bit yuck as soon as you start zooming into them.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
Motorola cuts out all the guff for pure phone protein, just lacking a few higher-end bits
Buy the Moto E (2015) from Motorola
Tech specs
Moto E (2015) in figures Operating system: Android Lollipop • Screen: 4.5in 960x540  • Processor: Snapdragon 410 @ 1.2GHz • RAM: 1GB • Camera: 5MP rear, VGA front • Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 • Storage: 8GB (with microSD) • Battery: 2390mAh • Dimensions/weight: 129.9 x 66.8 x 12.3mm / 145g

Wileyfox Swift (£129)
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The Wileyfox Swift is something special and at £129, it crams the specs you might have to pay almost £200 for elsewhere. It's similar in style and feel to the Nexus 5 – the width is similar and so is the thickness; at 9.4mm thick, but it's less chunky than the Moto G.
It has an insanely bright display on its 5in, 720p screen but the backlight can often seem too bright indoors; the Auto brightness setting doesn't seem willing to dial the backlight down enough. However, you can make the Wileyfox Swift actually change its tone depending on the time of day, gradually getting warmer as the hours pass.
One of the really unusual parts of the Wileyfox Swift is that it runs CyanogenMod rather than its own custom UI or standard Android. This is the same software used in both the OnePlus 2 and X. It looks a lot like normal Android Lollipop but once you get onto the Settings menu, you're whacked over the head by a huge number of extra customisations. It gives you the scope to just-about ruin the phone and after all your playing with the settings, although it's easy enough return to the defaults.
Wileyfox has made the masterful move of packing 2GB RAM – and 16GB of storage – into the Swift. Whilst the performance is generally very good, I did stumble onto the odd geriatric pause, and apps aren't always super-duper quick to load. Performance is similar to that of the Moto G (3rd Gen), with both phones using the Snapdragon 410 1.2GHz quad-core CPU.
Using a 13-megapixel S5K3M2 Samsung sensor, with the same ISOCELL technology introduced back with the Galaxy S5, the Swift's camera is pretty interesting. It also features similar pixel-isolating architecture to that seen in the iPhone 6s, and I'm mostly impressed with the results.
Unfortunately shooting in HDR is intensely slow and the camera app itself is pretty poor too. You flick up and down to change the shooting mode, from Auto to HDR to Night to a whole bunch of naff filters. Taking the software off the camera app of CyanogenMod off the shelf, is part of the reason why this phone is so cheap though. 
On the whole, the Wileyfox Swift is absolutely up there with the best ultra-budget phone cameras. It has a good sensor and a good lens, and the software/processing wonkiness can't spoil that.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩
Wileyfox have produced a tremendous bargain of a phone. It's not perfect, but it exceeds most of what else is out there at the price.
Buy the Wileyfox Swift from Amazon
Tech specs
Wileyfox Swift in figures Operating system: Cyanogen 12.1 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 @ 1.2GHz; RAM: 2GB • Camera: 13MP rear • Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 • Storage: 16GB (with microSD) • Battery: 2500mAh • Dimensions/weight: 141.15 x 71 x 9.37mm / 135g
Alcatel Pop 4+ (£120)
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Alcatel is slowly shifting into a serious smartphone contender with gems like the Idol 4S, but at heart it’s still king of the budget bargains - at least in its native France.
The Pop 4+ is the latest to cross the pond. It’s a pretty unassuming 5.5in phone, but you can bling it up with removable colour covers. The build is plastic all the way, but doesn’t feel light as a feather - it actually has a decent amount of heft to it.
Inside, it might be rocking four cores, but the Snapdragon 210 CPU and 1.5GB of RAM are hardly going to break any benchmark records. Some apps are downright slow to load, making you wonder whether you’ve actually tapped the screen.
That’s partly because Alcatel has added a custom skin on top of Android Marshmallow, and partly because it has loaded the phone up with pre-installed apps and games. Exorcise them from the 16GB built-in storage and things pick up a bit - enough for smoothly scrolling through Facebook and playing YouTube clips, at any rate. The launcher isn’t too dissimilar from the stock Android one, but the whole thing felt a little snappier with a third party one installed.
The 5.5in screen is fine for gaming on your commute or catching up on Netflix, but that lowly 720p resolution means you aren’t getting an awful lot of detail. Colours are pretty bright, but avoid the “vivid colour” mode in the settings screen - it dials things up to 11, decides that’s not lurid enough, and boosts the vibrancy even further.
Quality cameras are still hard to come by on sub-£150 phones, and the 8MP snapper on the Pop 4+ is no exception. The sensor itself is fine, capturing enough detail for sharing to social networks, but the HDR mode takes an absolute age to capture anything. And the results usually end up blown out and unrealistic.
Maybe that doesn’t matter to you, and you’re just after the biggest screen for the least amount of cash. The Pop 4+ mostly fits that bill, and handily beats out cheapo handsets from the major networks. Those two SIM card slots could make it the perfect travel companion too - leave your flagship phone at home and travel with one of these for peace of mind.
Need a big screen for not much cash? The Pop 4+ fits the bill - otherwise the smaller Moto E (2016) is better value
Buy the Pop 4 Plus here from Alcatel
Tech specs
Alcatel Pop 4+ in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5.5in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 quad-core• RAM: 1.5GB • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB plus microSD
EE Harrier Mini (£99)
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If you want a bit of budget bling, you have to check out the EE Harrier Mini. It has a faux brushed metal back and ring of bright gold around the camera. It’s no wallflower.
Of course, it’s all fake. This is a plastic phone, so make sure you don’t jump in thinking you’re getting the world’s cheapest all-metal mobile. It’s not all that fancy in-hand, and like the Moto G has a bit of curvy bulk to it.
The Harrier Mini is one of the few phones with a screen smaller than 5in across. It has a 4.7in 720p display, a cute little thing. One of this phone’s problems is that it the software lops off a bottom bar of the screen, making it look like a pokey little window onto Android. Games and apps can kick the soft keys off to use the whole area, though.
Aside from looking a bit tiddly, the Harrier Mini screen is pretty good. It’s sharp, and while the colours don’t pop like the Vodafone Prime 7’s, they look natural.
EE hasn’t fiddled with Android too much either. You get a bunch of preinstalled apps, but the look is exactly like Android Lollipop. Yep, we mean the old version: it doesn’t have the funky vertical apps menu of Android Marshmallow. You’ll also want to stock up microSD card too as the 4GB storage doesn’t give you much space to play with.
The Harrier Mini does have a fair bit of power for a cheap phone, though. Like the third-gen Moto G, this phone has a quad-core Snapdragon 410 CPU. It’s no weakling. The phone isn’t super-slick, though. Like the competition at the price, apps can take a little while to load. It’s nothing to get too upset about in a £100 phone, though, unless you’re weighing-up this phone versus a Moto G upgrade.
Camera fiends should consider the level-up. The Harrier Mini has an 8MP camera on the back and 2MP camera on the front, and neither is gets your shots lifelike colours. Its camera app is a bit ropey too. There are better camera experiences at around £100, so bear that in mind.
Like most network-branded phones, you can’t argue with the sheer value for money. At a pinch we’d pick Vodafone’s mobiles, but maybe you don’t want to pick the red team. Bear in mind these phones come locked to their parent networks, after all.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✩✩
An unusually dinky budget mobile for those who don’t want a phone that looks too plain
Buy the Harrier Mini from EE
Tech specs
EE Harrier Mini in figures Operating system: Android 5.1 • Screen: 4.7in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core • RAM: 1GB • Camera: 8MP rear, 2MP front • Storage: 4GB
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Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 (£135)
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Heads spun last year when Vodafone unleashed the Smart Ultra 6. Network-branded phones were cheap and nasty things for the truly cash-strapped - but here was an exception. Even better, it ended up as one of the best budget bargains of 2016.
The Smart Ultra 7 tried to recapture the magic, and while it’s good value, the wand seems to have run low on spell power.
That’s partly because times have changed. Sure, it’s packing a 5.5in, 1080p screen, but the Moto G4 now has something similar, done a lot better, for just £40 more.
Let’s start with the good bits, though. The screen is big and sharp, so absolutely perfect for Netflix. OK, that MediaTek MT6755M might not be the trendiest or most powerful CPU, but the Ultra feels fairly fast day-to-day.
There are some extras you might not expect, too: it’s packing NFC, a front LED flash for selfies, and a Samsung-style clicky Home button at the bottom of the screen. All of these are usually at risk of being chopped under “age of austerity” style budget cuts.
The rear camera has the same resolution as the big-name alternatives too. 13MP gets you a lot of HDR detail, at least on those good-weather days, and if you’re shooting regular photos it is pretty responsive.
Still, there are plenty of dodgy bits too. The Ultra 7 chugs through top-end games like Asphalt 8, making the most demanding titles almost unplayable if you max out the graphics. It’s a worse gaming phone than its daddy, which has a better (if far from perfect) Snapdragon 615 CPU.
HDR snaps are laggy too, although at least they’re generally super-sharp. Non-HDR shots look flat-out weird at times, like they’ve been drawn by a kid with a pack of crayons. All fine detail gets smushed into oblivion.
The screen struggles on bright sunny days too. It’s quite reflective anyway, and the LCD just can’t quite go bright enough to really blow those pixels into your peepers. Most budget phones suffer from this to an extent, though, so it’s hardly a surprise.
There’s less of an excuse for the dodgy dress sense. The Ultra 6 was boring, turning up in a plain grey suit, but the Vodafone Ultra 7 seems to have been lingering around the cheap suit aisle at TK Maxx. This is the only silver/white battery cover we’ve seen that manages to look garish. It’s quite a feat.
There are problems - but this is still one of the better giant screen phones at under £150, a value smash. Both the Moto G4 and Honor 5c are more consistent performers though. Oh, and don’t forget this one’s locked to Vodafone.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✩✩
Not groundbreaking like its daddy, but this is still a great value Voda - if you don’t mind being locked to the Big Red’s network
Buy the Smart Ultra 7 from Vodafone
Tech specs
Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5.5in 1920x1080 • Processor: MediaTek MT6755M octa-core • RAM: 2GB • Camera: 13MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB plus microSD
EE Rook (£50)
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The Rook is part of EE’s plan to get everyone hooked up with 4G, even those who want to pay virtually nothing for a phone. This one costs just £49, if you top up by £10 at the same time.
You don’t often see 4G phones this affordable, so whatever we might say it’s a dirt cheap way to experience super-fast mobile internet.
However, start using the EE Rook and its clear some other considerations have been neglected in order to fit 4G in at the price. The biggie is the screen.
The EE Rook has a poor display, with the kind of ultra-basic LCD screen whose character changes as soon as you tilt the phone a bit. The very bottom of the display is also clearly lighter, a sign that the backlight is ‘bleeding’ through. At this price the Lumia 535 gets you a better display. The low 800 x 480 resolution and small 4in size are the least of its worries.
It’s no masterpiece either. This phone is actually made by ZTE, and has some of that company’s budget traits, such as a dated front-on look with soft keys that look like they’ve been beamed straight from 2011. The one flash of EE personality is the yellow ring around the camera lens.
The screen is so problematic that it alone is enough to make us urge you to upgrade to the Harrier Mini if you can. It’s a much nicer-feeling phone.
However, if this is as far as your budget stretches the Rook doesn’t half pack in some meaty tech for the price. You get a decent quad-core MediaTek MT6735M that’s about as powerful as the popular Snapdragon 410, and a generous 8GB storage. Performance isn’t perfect, but is about as good as the more expensive Harrier Mini.
If it had an IPS LCD screen the EE Rook would be a winner, but the display quality is enough to make use think twice. Oh and the laggy camera is pretty rubbish too. But we expect no less at £49.
Stuff says: ✭✭✭✩✩
Value-packed hardware is let down by a poor screen
Buy the Rook from EE
Tech specs
EE Rook in figures Operating system: Android 5.1 • Screen: 4in 800x480 • Processor: MediaTek MT6735M quad-core • RAM: 1GB • Camera: 5MP rear, VGA front • Storage: 8GB
Sony Xperia E5 (£149)
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Xperia phones are hardly killing it at the top-end, which is why Sony has doubled down on wallet-friendly models like the E5. £150 gets you a 5in phone with a pretty tasty camera, but is that enough to set it apart from the bulging budget competition?
It definitely won’t win many hearts based on looks. Sony’s Omnibalance design was revolutionary once, but after countless minor variations, it’s looking a little tired. The E5 suffers badly here - ignore the Xperia logos and it’s just a basic slab of a handset.
The 720p display would have worked better across 4.7in instead of 5 - at least that would have helped the E5 stand out against superior cheap phones like the Moto G. At least it’s fairly bright, and colours are fairly true-to-life, so your photos look good onscreen.
Sony makes some of the best phone cameras around, so it’s no surprise the 13MP snapper is a highlight here. It stores loads of detail outdoors, and does a pretty good job inside when the light levels drop, too. Noise levels creep up after sunset, but Sony’s processing definitely elevates the E5 above phones from smaller brands.
That Mediatek CPU is the killer, though. It chugs along through most things, but will have you waiting around to load games like Asphalt 8 or Hearthstone. Even Chrome can take a second to pop open. It’s a quad-core chip, but 1.5GB of RAM isn’t enough to help it once you start swapping between apps.
A meagre seven hours of video playback isn’t great, but in general use the E5 will at least get you through an entire day without sending you searching for a plug socket to recharge.
Sony’s custom UI doesn’t help matters either. It’s pretty lightweight, but fills nearly half the E5’s 16GB of storage with pre-installed apps. At least there’s an SD card slot so you can squeeze in some more space should you run out.
If camera quality trumps performance for you, the Xperia E5 has a few good things going for it, but everyone else should find a bit more cash and pick up a Moto G.
Trademark Sony looks and a decent camera, but not a lot else to lift it above the best from Motorola
Buy the Sony Xperia E5 here from Amazon
Sony Xperia E5 in figures Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: Mediatek MT6735 quad-core • RAM: 1.5GB • Camera: 13MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB + microSD card slot
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Sony Xperia X review
Wileyfox Spark
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Has this one fallen off the back of a lorry? The Wileyfox Spark is cheap enough to make you raise an eyebrow, especially when it seems to have some of the same features as phones costing well over £100.
Cheap doesn't always mean good, though, so we've included it here as a warning to look at more than the price tag when shopping for a bargain.
The Spark looks good enough, in a plain Jane sort of way, and doesn’t seem like it'll fall apart after a few months of use. The plastic battery cover has a furze-y finish to it designed to feel a bit different from your average cheap plastic. It works too.
So why don’t we like the Wileyfox Spark when it sounds like a foxy Moto G-style bargain?
If this is a ‘spark’, it’s the one that never seems to be able to light your gas hob. This is perhaps the slowest-feeling phone we’ve used this year, even though it has a fairly powerful and up-to-date quad-core CPU, the MediaTek MT6735.
Issues include the phone’s lowly 1GB RAM and storage that's so slow it’s like there’s a tiny little person inside writing down data on a notebook. In longhand. While some parts of the interface can feel fast, apps tend to be head-bangingly slow and trying to multitask feels like trying to tie your shoelaces with one hand.
It’s a real shame, because other aspects of the phone are solid for the money. The CyanogenMod UI is ultra-customisable, and while the 5in 720p screen doesn’t set standards, it will do the job for Netflix or aimless Facebook’ing during boring bus journeys. It’s the kind of screen we’re after at the price.
The camera is only about as good as you’d expect, but isn’t dreadful. 8MP shots tend to have a blue cast to them that make even sunny landscapes look miserable, and you’ll often have to fiddle with photos after pressing the shutter to make them look bright enough. But after a bit of work you’ll be ready for Instagram.
The camera is pretty fast for a cheap phone too, and the front camera can take alarmingly decent selfies. If only Wileyfox had spent as much time making sure the phone isn't a chore to use.
We had also expected the tiddly 2200mAh battery to drain down by dinner, but it will last all day. However, perhaps that’s because the Spark is a phone you end up trying to use as little as possible.
The price is low, but the head-in-hands slow performance will raise your blood pressure
Buy the Wileyfox Spark from Amazon
Tech specs
Wileyfox Spark in features Operating system: Android 6.0.1 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: MediaTek MT6735 quad-core • RAM: 1GB • Camera: 8MP rear, 8MP front • Storage: 8GB plus microSD
HTC Desire 530 (£129)
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What’s the easiest way to stand out? That’s right, wear a spangly shirt. It’s advice HTC has taken to heart with the Desire 530, using a multi-coloured speckled rear cover that looks a bit like a postcard you’d pick up in the Tate Modern.
It’s a real departure from boring old black, but it’s a shame this is clamped onto the back of a phone that looks like something HTC has recycled from a couple of years ago. This is not the most visually cohesive phone.
You may also be disappointed to hear that it doesn’t have the BoomSound speakers HTC phones are famed for. Contrary to the look, there’s only one speaker. And it’s not very good.
On the bright side, the screen is solid. It’s a classic 5-inch 720p LCD, and has good colour. HTC’s earlier budget phones looked a bit weak thanks to underbaked colours. Not this one.
It’s the one bit of respite you get, though. The main stinger is that the Desire 530 feels slow throughout, a lot slower even than the Vodafone Smart Prime 7 that uses the same CPU, a quad-core Snapdragon 210.
There’s a lot of lag, which will probably get on your nerves quickly. This is not only down to a low-end CPU, but bad management of resources. With any luck it’ll improve with system updates. But it probably won’t make the Desire 530 a real winner.
Its camera is dead basic too, an 8-megapixel sensor with a slow-ish f/2.4 lens. Colour handling is quite bad. Your shots will come out looking like they came from an even cheaper phone.
The interesting side of the Desire 530 is the custom interface. Like most other HTC phones, the Desire 530 uses Sense, an interface that has a look all of its own and BlinkFeed. This is a news widget that takes up a full homescreen, letting you flick through your favourite sites’ news stories on the way to work.
You can customise Sense more than normal Android too, and it’s not too different from what HTC uses in its more expensive phones.
There are some interesting bits to the HTC Desire 530, but it’s a mish-mash that doesn’t nail enough of the basics. It costs too much when phones of this price offer just about perfect day-to-day performance. This one certainly doesn’t.
Stuff says: ✭✭✩✩✩
A budget dud, there are far too many things wrong with the Desire 530 for it to be a good deal
Buy the HTC Desire 530 from Amazon
Tech specs
HTC Desire 530 in figures Operating system: Android 6.0 • Screen: 5in 1280x720 • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 quad-core • RAM: 1.5GB • Camera: 8MP rear, 5MP front • Storage: 16GB


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